Delay could cause empty deck space: Marine Atlantic

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Don Barnes isn't certain what happened Tuesday evening when the MV Caribou sailed with empty deck space while traffic waited on the terminal parking lot in Port aux Basques.

In an article in The Western Star Friday, truck company owner Chris Hollett complained commercial reservation needed to be scrapped, and Tuesday evening's sailing was evidence of that which he documented with pictures.

Corner Brook -

Don Barnes isn't certain what happened Tuesday evening when the MV Caribou sailed with empty deck space while traffic waited on the terminal parking lot in Port aux Basques.

In an article in The Western Star Friday, truck company owner Chris Hollett complained commercial reservation needed to be scrapped, and Tuesday evening's sailing was evidence of that which he documented with pictures.

Marine Atlantic's vice-president of customer experience said the boat may have been loaded as quickly as possible and sent out on a tight schedule.

In North Sydney recently ferry departures were set for 2:30 a.m., 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. If any one of the departures were late, the next would surely be late as well.

"If you get off schedule you're going to affect everything else, and it's going to run on for three or four days," Barnes said. "You'll end up affecting every passenger as opposed to a few. On the ground, folks are going to make a decision are we going to move people from the wait list, or can't we."

There have been times when there are nine on the wait list and all nine got on the boat. By the same token there have been times when there were 10 on the wait list and three sailed with the crossing.

The decisions will be made based on space and timing. With 54 sailings a week across the Gulf of St. Lawrence, he said the pace can get hectic.

A lot of the time the staff will get the decision right, sometimes, they won't.

"Most of the time, I think the guys are pretty experienced and they're working hard and they'll make a judgment call and say, 'we need to leave now or we're going to run into a bigger problem,' or they'll say, 'we can hang on for a few minutes guys and get a few more on,'" he said.

Organizations: Marine Atlantic

Geographic location: Corner Brook, Port aux Basques, Western Star North Sydney

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  • don
    July 20, 2010 - 13:03

    I traveled on Marine Atlantic Ferries last week. I was told that without a photo I.D. I could not travel on the Ferry. I informed the folks at Marine Atlantic that Canadians have a guaranteed Constitutional right to travel on the Ferry from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland and return with or without a photo I.D. I was promptly told to keep my legal opinions to myself and that it was Marine Atlantic that decided who could travel and who could not. If a photo I.D was not produced, the passenger could opt not to travel on the Ferry. It once was the plan of the British Crown to make Newfoundland a penal colony, it now appears that we will become prisoners on the Island of Newfoundland if we cannot produce a photo ID. I heard one woman complain that she had a very bad back and needed a cabin so she could lie down and get a hot shower to ease her back pain. That woman was told that she should have booked a cabin back in February or perhaps she should not be traveling on the boat at all. Another woman from the USA who could not get a cabin was told not to lie across the empty seats next to her when she slept. What a complete public relations and customer service disaster the Marine Atlantic Ferry system is! The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is spending millions of dollars to entice tourists to come to visit Newfoundland. When the tourists do spend their money to come to Newfoundland they must endure the dismal service on the Marine Atlantic Ferry. No cabins were available on the 16 hour Argentia run. Parents with little kids with no place to sleep or get a shower. Elderly folks with no place to sleep. Terrible food at outrageously high prices. The Atlantic Vision with over 200 cabins is doing a 5 hour run to Port-aux-Basques because she is too long to safely dock at Argentia. I spoke to an informed person who told me that the two used Ferry boats which have been leased are to be shortened by 90 feet so they will fit in the Argentia dock. Instead of elongating the docks, Marine Atlantic has decided to shorten the Ferry boats at huge cost. Are the folks who run Marine Atlantic for real? Perhaps because of their own frustration with the system, I felt that the staff on the Ferry had a surly attitude toward even the most benign request from a passenger. The Tourism Minister is wasting his time and our tax payer money trying to lure tourists to Newfoundland and Labrador. Those tourists who do decide to come and wind up experiencing the lack of professionalism, surly attitudes and lack of customer service won't be coming back and will no doubt warn their friends to stay away from Newfoundland and Labrador.

  • Walter
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    A lot off the problem is the harbour in Port aux Basques .To small for the ferries.The worse place in NL to put a ferry terminal was at PAB.It was built there years ago when the ferry,s were much smaller and now the ferry,s are bigger the have problems docking.Even if the did more improvments to the harbour it wouldn,t make any difference .The Ferry terminal should have went further east where there is lots of water and land and ice free all year round

  • David
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    The last paragraph sums it up....we know what we're doing, so go away and we'll run this thing the way we want to.

    What a farce.

  • Greg
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Mr. Barnes should have gotten an explanation as to why the boat sailed with empty spaces onboard while paying customers were denied access before he spoke to The Telegram.

    Quoting him as being not certain what happened or what the reasons might have been are not answers.

    The boat sailed with empty space onboard while customers waited on the wharf.

    Mr. Barnes, drop the cheap spin and give a truthful straight answer, as painful as that may be for Marine Atlantic.

  • Peter
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    I said it before
    It'is a ship.
    You can put a boat on a ship but you cant put a ship on a boat
    please direct this to the vice-president of useles ferry service

  • tom
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    worst run company in atlantic canada.deserve an oscar.

  • John
    July 20, 2010 - 13:02

    Having 2 vessels sail within a 1/2 hour of each other is bound to cause delays. With 3 sailing with 1 1/2 hours, they should spread out the sailings so that they sail at midnight, 3:00 a.m and 6 am. That would allow them time to somewhat work the vessels correctly and get FULL loads for the vessels.

    What's the matter with the skippers. THey used to know how to dock a ship with some of it extending past the end of the dock. Sould be an easy fix unless the wharf area needs to be dredged because it is too shallow. Why not, if that is the case, dredge the wharf area this winter when there is no traffic comming and going.

    30 years ago, vessels were on fast turn-around sailings only if there were delkays caused by weather or mechanical breakdown i.e. exceptional circumstances with good service as a minimum and excellent service the norm. Now it seems thsat they are always working the fast turn-around and service is medicore at best and extreemly bad which seems to be the norm. The big shots should know this and take steps to make the service as good as it should be.